Assistant Professor
College of Professional Studies
Ph.D., In Progress, Grand Canyon University
M.S., 2010, Erikson Institute Graduate School
B.A., 2003, Olivet Nazarene University

Professor Chorak returned home in 2020 to join Olivet’s full-time faculty and serve as an assistant professor and the director of the Child Development Program. She teaches education and child development courses, along with advising all child development majors.

Upon completing her undergraduate degree in elementary education from ONU and Illinois teaching licensure in 2003, she supported children and families within the urban settings of Chicago Heights as a 1st grade educator, and Chicago Public Schools as Prek-8th grade science educator. Her deep desire to support the cognitive, physical, emotional, and social developmental needs of children inspired in the initial years of teaching, led to advanced specialization in human development at the Erikson Institute in Chicago. She completed an M.S. in Child Development with a Child Life Specialization as well as a year long internship at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital – supporting the psychosocial, emotional and developmental needs of children and families during life’s adversities across the healthcare setting.  

Following graduate school, Professor Chorak continued supporting the psychosocial, emotional and developmental needs of children birth through young adults and their families as a member of the multidisciplinary care team as a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) at both Rush University Children’s Hospital and Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and as an educator at Aquinas Catholic Academy and Triton College. In recent years, she served as a Supervisor Parent Educator with the First Taste (prenatal-3yo) ISBE Preventative Initiative funded Program of Kankakee County and collaboration amongst area K111, BESD53 and Herscher school districts. 

She has served on regional (Chicagoland Association of Child Life Professionals CACLP) and national level (Association of Child Life Professionals ACLP) child life professional committees and currently continues to serve as a professional member and Board of Directors member for the Chicagoland Association of Child Life Professionals and Member Advisory Group committee member for the ACLP. Amanda served as the president and president elect executive board leadership positions for the CACLP (2015-2019). Locally, she is an Advisory Board member for Health Families and member of the Success by Six United Way of Kankakee and Iroquois County initiative. Additionally, she is a member of the National Association of Education for the Young Child (NAEYC) and Certified Educator for Infant Massage (CEIM) and member with the International Infant Massage Association. 

It is her passion and goal to contribute to the growing profession and field of child life support services; cultivate change within education and conversations societally that support the psychosocial, emotional and developmental needs of children and families, not only during life’s challenges, but during the everyday difficult places their lives inhabit; and to advocate for the importance of play in the lives of children. 

She and her husband Steven ’05 M.A./’10 M.Ed., reside in the Kankakee area and enjoy spending time with their families, along with supporting the vibrant community theatre organizations throughout the county together both onstage and offstage. Steven is the Dean of Students at Centennial High School in Champaign, Illinois. During her spare time, she enjoys baking, gardening, dancing and family cats.   

Assistant Professor
College of Professional Studies
M.A., 2011, Concordia University, Chicago
B.A., 2006, Wheaton College

Professor Kristin Mathews has worked in both the private and public education settings.  She began her teaching career at a Christian school in Homewood, Ill., right after graduating from Wheaton College and earning her Illinois teaching certification.  While teaching 3rd grade, she began working on her master’s in educational leadership.  During this time, she transitioned to a public middle school in Matteson, Ill., where she taught speech and theatre.

During her time instructing students in speech and theatre, she developed a drama program and directed and produced theatrical productions at the school.  At one point she simultaneously coached the girls’ basketball team while producing the winter musical at her school. Through her work toward her degree in educational leadership, she partnered with the school leadership team to pilot an RTI program.  After earning her master's degree, she served on the school improvement team and the district’s Teaching Institute Planning Committee.  

After several years as an elective teacher, Professor Mathews transitioned to an 8th grade English language arts classroom.  She completed training in Gifted Education with South Cook Intermediate Services to help launch her school district’s first middle school gifted education program. While teaching gifted students, she also put her training in co-teaching to good use as the English language arts teacher for her grade level special education students.  

She worked to complete her National Board Teacher Certification through a partnership with Illinois State University where she operated as her school district’s teacher liaison for the National Board Resource Center in Normal, Ill. During this time, she also trained to become a certified teacher evaluator through the Illinois State Board of Education.   

During her years in the K-12 setting, Professor Mathews participated in professional development training for topics such as “Grant Writing,” “Strategies to Develop a Growth Mindset,” “Restorative Discipline,” and “Teacher Mentorship.”   Kristin has served as a mentor teacher to new teachers, team leader, and conducted various presentations for her school district including topics such as, “The Co-taught Classroom,” “Incorporating Technology into Instruction,” and “Differentiation Made Easy.” 

Prior to coming to ONU, Professor Mathews received her school’s first ever Eagle Award for her outstanding classroom strategies, leadership and contributions to the school community. She also piloted her district’s first ever virtual summer school as the coordinator for the middle school program.  Through this experience she was able to use her knowledge of data assessment, instructional technology, and teacher leadership to guide staff and students through standards-based learning during the Covid-19 Pandemic.   

Professor Mathews teaches introductory education and ELA & social studies methods courses at Olivet. She believes that working with pre-service teachers provides her with an opportunity to mentor and encourage a new generation of educators to be the hands and feet of Christ in the schools where they will serve.   

When she is not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her husband Jerry and their three kids, Madelyn, Micah and Mya. They are active volunteers in their church’s children’s program and enjoy traveling as often as possible.   

Assistant Professor
College of Professional Studies
M.S., 2016, University of St. Francis
M.S., 2014, Northern Illinois University
B.A., 1999, Illinois State University

Professor Tonya Peterson joined the Olivet faculty at the start of the 2020-2021 academic year after spending fourteen years in the K-8 public education setting.

She graduated summa cum laude with her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Illinois State University in 1999, earning several academic scholarships, such as the University Scholar Program and the College of Education Alumni Award. She also earned the Resident Assistant of the Year award from the Office of Residential Life. She was also a member of the Golden Key National Honor Society and Kappa Delta Pi, as well as the Student Education Association.

Professor Peterson taught in two different districts in the far west suburbs of Chicago for over a decade. During that time, she served on the School Improvement Team, the Building Leadership Team, and trained all new 5th grade teachers district-wide in the area of mathematics instruction. She was also instrumental in the research, development, and implementation of a standards-based report card. 

Professor Peterson subsequently spent four years as the principal of a K-8 building, where students, staff, and administration collectively earned the Illinois State Board of Education distinction of "Exemplary School." This designation is obtained by the top 10% of schools in the state. She has mentored many clinical students, student teachers, and new teachers during her time in schools. During her years as a teacher, Professor Peterson was a member of the Illinois Education Association, the National Education Association, and the American Federation of Teachers. She was also a part of the Illinois Principal's Association.

During her career in education, Professor Peterson earned two master’s degrees, beginning with a Master of Science in Special Education from Northern Illinois University in 2013, which resulted in an LBSI endorsement, and followed by a Master of Science in Educational Leadership and Administration from the University of St. Francis in 2017, which led to a Principal Preparation endorsement. 

Outside of school, Professor Peterson loves to spend time with her two daughters and her husband, who is also an educator. As a family, they enjoy traveling to new states with the goal of seeing all 50 states in their lifetime. She also enjoys hiking, reading, gardening, and baking. 

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